Christmas Passed – Decs Deferred

This is the year we were caught by surprise.

There were a few good reasons why our house seemed a poor uninspired effort amidst the joy and celebration visible all around us. We witnessed our neighbors welcoming and hosting a blockful of cars and SUV’s. Although our own family was outside of this arena, it still felt strange to come home and have to navigate a darkened driveway without all those garish eyesores blocking the way.

One of the reasons we forewent all of that was that when the time came, there was a daunting situation. How does an older physically challenged person climb a ladder, get those lights in perfect alignment and take hours doing it. Then, the decorations themselves were old. Old, elder lights that were crumbling with oxidation just like our old bones. Older Christmas village that may have been magical beyond when a small child, looked like a group of old paper covered in sparkles which were quickly falling off. Sad.

Then there was the tree itself. It isn’t a tree; it’s the top part of an artificial tree that was also very old, and long gone and forgotten. The needles are out of proportion to the tree, making it impossible to hang trinkets. This year my patience was lost. The tree sits on the dining room table, making it impossible to use the table in the event of a rare, rare, rare, visit by friend or family.

Hence the desire and the drive to make it up. Yule season, thee is not forgotten nor forlorn. No longer will I ignore, and deny myself the magic and anticipation of the return of the light to the earth.

Next year will be hard, yes, with new involvement in environmental and social pushbacks. Despite not speculating and guessing, my life will be just as difficult as anyone else’s. But I’m up to it.

Putting my needs before anything else, downsizing does not mean ignoring. A modified, sale priced lighting display and new tree that actually looks festive, is a goal. So I made sure of this.

Several shopping trips later, I’ve become the proud owner of a plan that will startle and surprise. I will walk the grounds, splying wires and tiny lights. I will attach, hang, tape and smear sparkles and color over all the surfaces out there. And after the feast of the epiphany on January 6, 2018, I will do the entire act in reverse.

Such is life. Holding breath until it is time to exhale simply causes one to understand the importance and peace of the wait. Seasonal decorations may be held absent now, but will brighten our eyes and hearts in years to come.

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Another Day of Amazing Rudeness

Ever open up your #FaceBook page and hearken to Gen Xer relatives posting curses and rants against “federal government” and presidential hopefuls they don’t support, and oh, yes. #Muslims. Well, I have.

Gen Xers apparently have a mindset that they can say, do or post anything they want and then post things like “if you don’t like it…” or “too bad if you are so stupid…” (my para’s). Well, time to rethink what a “friend” with whom you “share” is, really.

Not that I’m looking for a way to have a world of bytes agree with me 100% of the time, but it seems it is not expedient, wise or even worth the time of day to again and again tell the world who you are. Who you identify as, with, or to.

This is apparently not popular, and let’s face it. Very few people of my advanced age even use FaceBook.

I thought it would be a great way to see pics and see people with whom I’m related, as they grow and participate in their own little, closed, now I realized, insular reality. This is not the case. My first to rebel niece, #Susan E. Fagan, jumped the shark many years ago when she would not accept my plea to watch out for cancer. My other two nieces don’t use their real names, and they are not little cute kids any more.

Well, neither am I. But I’ll try to stay clean and neat, at least inside, and let the rest of the world seek that within themselves before turning to my sometimes broken, heart. Be rude, but be rude without me.

Bracing for Impact – Just a Few More Daze to Go

Fate had the grace to grant me the privilege of reconnecting with those people I did not choose to connect with in the first place. If there is a lesson in this Thanksgiving holiday, it’s that you have to unburn those bridges at some point or it is not even worthwhile. It will make you compound the ills and mistakes made not by you, oh, no, but by the others.

And that was what they were to me. They have flitted in and out of my life, one flitting taking her daughter with her to end that line of thought with utter hatred, and others making up time when they can, and being very honest about that.

I was once a person who had no truck with the elders. But time has taught me the value of cherishing the nearness, the corporal experience, of one who will not be here forever. And I have the best of motives to be aware of that –

my thyroid surgery is in just a few days. I am quite ready; having read all the materials, incentive spirometer in one hand, advance directive in the other, TV remote in arm’s reach, and pets underfoot. It’s my understanding that the operation itself is quite routine. What is not routine, is the identification and staging of the cancer, and the fact that there will be many repercussions afterwards. I’m just biding my time to handle the complications that may occur – the appointments, the specialist advice, the treatments. All done before with my breast cancer. The goal is complete healing, and my goal is not looking like I just had a head transplant.

Of course, this all comes to a head! The excitement, the confusion, the endless talking and explanations, the overeating and excessive drinking, this will all end tonight, and serious thought begins to go into making my one-night stay in a hospital bed as bearable as possible.

So, looking forward to the landing. Bracing for impact – may it be a soft one, surprisingly easy and one that will allow liftoff once again.

Being a Scoffling – Some August Thoughts

In the spirit of celebration for the recent #Oxford Dictionary new words list for 2015, I have one of my own. Scoffling – one who has been ignored, mocked, gently(?) bullied into believing that anything they have to say or do is only worth a dismissive wave of the hand, which is what a #scoff usually is.

dtspg trip to asbury park boardwalk 8-15 (4 of 118)This idea came about after talking to my 84-year-old #mom about attending my first same-sex aka “gay” wedding recently. The pictures of two men embracing each other in front of family and friends was too much to bear, and she held up her arms to deflect the sight before her. When pressed, she admitted that a man/woman union would have been taken more seriously by her. In any circumstance, one would have said, well this is a person set in their ways and that, while not being malicious or #lyncheous (another word #coined by me), she is genuinely taken aback by the concept of all love being equal. I am sure that in another era, a mixed-race union would have been equally offensive and #faint-worthy (I am on a roll here!).

But it wasn’t the circumstances at that moment that inspired me. Being with an elderly parent is in itself an event to be processed. When I did the reflective part, spending time analyzing her and my reaction to her, I realized that it wasn’t just an isolated event to be #shunned for my liberal, open-minded, yes, might we say #Unitarian/Universalist views. It was a culmination of past emotions and feelings that Mom and only Mom can evoke.

Moms are especially important in one’s development and social integration. For instance, Mom is the one to tell you to put the napkin on your lap before eating, to not talk with food in your mouth, to shake hands with new people, to wait until spoken to by an older, or slightly more distinguished person, to respect and admire bravery and achievements. To remind you, her child, of how special you are and how your hopeful development into a happy, stable adult has meant so much to her.

None of the above is true in some cases, like say mine. Mom lives for the moment. She has no opinion, never had, about atrocities to women, social issues, any of that. It was left to me to figure things out, and find out, sometimes painfully, that a lot of what she stands for or doesn’t, is just not, well, viable. So getting through to adulthood was another revelation for me, as I adjusted my attitude and shed the burdens of inadequacy – and still do.

I mean, I am still a scoffling. I have been hand-waved, pooh-poohed and told that I am either over-reacting or over-sensitive to each and every hurt feeling experienced in the intimate circle of family. Such gatherings are fraught with imagined scenarios and responses, the very thing one should not do. Focusing on my own reaction to scoffs, I cannot see through the scuffs on my soul and spirit at the same time.

So, in solidarity, I join with the #halflings, #ogrelings, #elflings, #thinglings, as a #scoffling and take my place among the unique, interesting and proud beings of this life.

Sketches and Designs

The accepted image, not the final but close.
The accepted image, not the final but close.

Yesterday I noticed that two sketchbooks that I had been putting aside as inspiration had gone missing. Is this the ghost of Dad haunting me after three years in the Summerlands? Probably. He would find the most intimate and annoying way to get through to my feelings. This makes me feel so special.

Today I got word that a photo that I took and was submitted for a widely published calendar has been accepted. This is my first really big (what the Internet is not?) publication. People will actually pay to see what I did.

The memory of working on this photo is bittersweet. Each turn created another turn as I struggled to get the image just right. Not only for the calendar’s use, but for the creator of the design, a very special person who deserves the credit for her creativity and attention to detail.

When we honor nature, we honor ourselves. The books will turn up at some point, and will be a pleasant surprise as they join the myriad of paper goods that are turning up in every closet, every redweld, every corner of my house.

Sketches and photos come and go, but our love of nature and our love of working with each other in design and horticulture, will remain at the forefront and will always be available for us to enjoy.